Can We Design 2050?

Much of what I read warns that “green shoots” talk of economic recovery is feel-good propaganda, that the classic liberal economic growth model of industrial capitalism needs radical re-engineering, that Western-style production and consumption demanded by 9-10 billion people would require four to five Planet Earths to support, and that we are entering a period of calamitous social upheaval as a consequence.

When the drumbeat of dire prognoses becomes too incessant, alarm turns to numbness. The way designers deal with the anxiety of uncertainty is to start designing. We believe, like Herb Simon, that the way to work on ill-defined, “wicked” problems is what he first labeled Design Thinking … to begin doing stuff even if you are not sure you know what or why you are doing it. Just go in anywhere, says Simon, start working your way through stochastically, hypothesize and test, trial and error, and you will discover the shape and boundaries of the problem. Continue reading “Can We Design 2050?”

Design, Learning and Cultures of Creativity

This is a presentation I just gave in Singapore to an audience of school teachers,  principals and officers of the Ministry of Education. It is part of my continuing work in Singapore since 2002 to help Singapore embed Design Thinking in K-12 curricula both as domain subject matter for a design career path and as a pedagogical strategy for teaching all other academic subjects. Click link below to download powerpoint presentation.


Design2050 Communiqué 1.1

TO: Design Studio Masters

Design2050 is the theme that I proposed to the ICSID (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design) for their biennial World Congress to take place in Singapore in November 2009. The local organization responsible for designing and delivering the program is DesignSingapore. I am a member of their board of advisors and principal advisor to the ICSID organizing committee.

Nine Design Concept Teams around the world are being led by world reknowned Design Studio Masters. Each team has selected a “big problem”  of their choosing to redesign for broad adoption at scale by 2050. They have chosen themes ranging from mobility, cities and food production to healthcare, entertainment and joy. Participants in the studios include students and young designers paired with a professional design organization. We set up a CollectiveX group site to make the collaborative work visible to all as it progresses. Continue reading “Design2050 Communiqué 1.1”